Driver Dissatisfaction Continues in Oakland

Driver Protest Port of Oakland 11 27 2013 002We were calling it “Our Summer of Discontent,” but we are fast approaching winter and the discontent hasn’t let up.  The issues with terminal mergers and the resulting upheaval have created roadblocks we continue to struggle through today.  Drivers are wary of the delays and inconsistent service.  Their nerves are frayed, their frustration grows and many are fed up and choosing to leave the industry.

To add fuel to the already raging fire, there continues to be on-going driver protests.  There have been three staged blockades at the Port of Oakland since August with the latest being the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Friday after, November 27th and 29th.  The protests have been organized by the Port of Oakland Trucker Association (POTA), which is a group of independent contractors serving the port.  They continue to fight for a delay to the California Air Resources Board (CARB) impending truck retirement deadline as well as pressure the port to pay a $50/container Green Truck Fee and a $50/hour Congestion Fee.  Neither of which will happen.

The port has been working with motor carriers and cargo owners to encourage pay advancements to drivers in order to help defray the costs of the newer, more expensive equipment.  They are not, however, going to let the protests stop commerce.  The port has filed an injunction against the protesters and has been closely coordinating with the City of Oakland and the Oakland Police Department to keep the gates clear and open.  The sticky wicket to productivity on these protest days is to what extent the ILWU will honor their picket lines. Despite an arbitrator ruling there is no health and safety concerns as a result of the demonstrations, ILWU, and therefore productivity, is nevertheless hampered.

For information on POTA’s demands, click here.

For the port and city’s response, click here.

Disruptions, Delays & Drivers

Since the 4th of July holiday, we have experienced a series of labor disruptions and slowdowns in Oakland.  The latest issue was a protest by the Port of Oakland Trucker Association.  The protest lasted two days, October 21st and 22nd, and effectively shut down terminal operations one day and limited operations on the other.  Drivers want additional pay to offset the expense of purchasing a California Air Resources Board (CARB) compliant truck.  Effective January 1, 2014, every truck serving the state’s marine and rail facilities has to be model-year engine 2007 or newer. They are also seeking an extension to the CARB deadline in order to pursue grant and other funding.  The final complaint is terminal inefficiencies.  Drivers are not able to process as many transactions in a day as they need to in order to make a living.  With long queues, extended wait times, container unavailability and chassis chasing, drivers are making half the turns needed.

It’s not as easy as throwing twice the number of drivers at the problem to move the same amount of freight…which is not an option anyway because of the nationwide driver shortage.  Even if we could increase the fleet serving Oakland by 100%, it would only create more congestion, more delays and more disgruntled drivers.